Common Sense

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Common Sense


the attitudes of people toward themselves and surrounding reality, formed spontaneously under the influence of everyday experience and constituting the foundation of their practical activity and morality. Common sense functions as the practical attitude of a philosophically unsophisticated person who persists in regarding reality as it immediately appears to him. Common sense is, in the final analysis, an uncritical combination of “naïve realism” with those traditional attitudes that are predominant in a given society. Inasmuch as the foundation of common sense is the immediately practical relation of man to the world, it never rises to the level of a scientific and philosophical perception of reality; in this lies its limitation. F. Engels wrote: “To the metaphysician, things and their mental reflexes, ideas, are isolated, are to be considered one after the other, are objects of investigation fixed, rigid, given once and for all. ... At first sight this mode of thinking seems to us very luminous, because it is that of so-called human common sense. Only sound common sense, a very respectable fellow that he is, in the homely realm of his own four walls, has very wonderful adventures directly he ventures out into the world of research” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Works, 2nd ed., vol. 20, p. 21). The problem of common sense is posed by Marxism in the context of building up the scientific world view and is above all a problem of the critical analysis of everyday, spontaneously formed consciousness.

In the history of philosophy there are opposing tendencies in the interpretation of the nature and significance of common sense. Thus, the French materialists of the 18th century held that man’s common sense was incompatible with religion, while representatives of the 18th-century Scottish school of common sense asserted that common sense must inevitably lead to belief in god. T. Reid believed that man’s consciousness is not a tabula rasa filled in through experience, as the sensationalists affirmed. On the contrary, experience itself was possible only to the extent that the human spirit possessed inborn principles of common sense, such as unshakable faith in god and in the surrounding world; philosophy could be constructed only on the basis of these principles.

In contemporary bourgeois philosophy there are contradic-tory interpretations of common sense as well. The so-called realistic movements (neorealism, critical realism) proceed from the assumption that common sense by necessity must postulate the existence of actual reality, without which “man can neither live nor philosophize” (G. Santayana, USA). On the other hand, the representatives of religious thought believe that common sense leads to an unavoidable recognition of the existence of god. Finally, according to pragmatism, common sense is identical with the utility or advantage a man derives in a given situation.


References in classic literature ?
At intervals I cultivate the difficult virtue of common sense.
Nevertheless his greatness consists throughout partly in the common sense which he shares with the best English critics and thinkers of all periods; and as regards tragedy he concludes, in spite of rules and theory, that he 'loves Shakspere.
I always lacked common sense when taken by surprise.
What I say is that marriage is a matter for common sense.
A few years however will settle her opinions on the reasonable basis of common sense and observation; and then they may be more easy to define and to justify than they now are, by any body but herself.
He delighted in the robust common sense of Thomas Hobbes; Spinoza filled him with awe, he had never before come in contact with a mind so noble, so unapproachable and austere; it reminded him of that statue by Rodin, L'Age d'Airain, which he passionately admired; and then there was Hume: the scepticism of that charming philosopher touched a kindred note in Philip; and, revelling in the lucid style which seemed able to put complicated thought into simple words, musical and measured, he read as he might have read a novel, a smile of pleasure on his lips.
Thinking that it was time to bring down the Monarch from his raptures to the level of common sense, I determined to endeavour to open up to him some glimpses of the truth, that is to say of the nature of things in Flatland.
His panacea was somewhat in the nature of an anti-climax, but at least it had the merits of simplicity and of common sense.
On the other hand, both political science and common sense teach us that in matters of state, and especially in the matter of war, private citizens must forego their personal individual
Common sense knows its own, and recognizes the fact at first sight in chemical experiment.
I know of none of his plays that is of wrong effect, or that violates the instincts of purity, or insults common sense with the romantic pretence that wrong will be right if you will only paint it rose-color.
The CHAIRMAN felt it his imperative duty to demand of the honourable gentleman, whether he had used the expression which had just escaped him in a common sense.